THE sheer scale of mindless vandalism against public property in Wigan is today laid bare in an exclusive report by the Evening Post.
In a time when the council is tightening its purse strings, the cost of repairing criminal damage to Wigan and Leigh Housing has doubled over the last four years.
Tenants had to shell out a massive £303,676 in the year ending in March to pay for damages that have been incurred in their homes. This cost, borne out of their own pockets, rose from £151,699 in 2008/09.
Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act also reveal that the removal of graffiti cost WALH £8,029 in 2008/09, but rose to £15,388 in 2011/12. Over the last year, vandals trashed property belonging to Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust (WLCT) 69 times.
The trust was unable to give a figure of how much the repair work cost, but it is expected to run into many thousands.
Some of the worst examples include smearing excrement on gravestones in Gidlow Cemetery and racist graffiti – including a Swastika – being scrawled in Wigan’s play parks. And there was outrage when vandals beheaded a brass statue by the canal at Trencherfield Mill.
A spokesman for Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust said: “We work tremendously hard as an organisation to improve facilities and services for people in this borough. So mindless vandalism such as these are extremely disheartening, as well as time consuming and costly. We would urge everyone to have pride in their parks and public buildings and report anybody who they see committing acts of vandalism to the police.”
Coun Chris Ready, cabinet champion for leisure, said: “Parks are valued places for families to relax, children to play and they enable everyone to get fit and exercise.
“The behaviour of a few thoughtless vandals not only spoilt this but can also cause serious dangers.
“We all want to enjoy a clean and safe environment but at a time when funds are tight, the time and money spent clearing up after the mindless minority is cash we can ill afford.”